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Depression during pregnancy can double risk of preterm delivery
Date:10/22/2008

aid lead author Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland.

"This study adds to emerging evidence that depression during early pregnancy may interfere with the neuroendocrine pathways and subsequently placental function. The placenta and neuroendocrine functions play an important role in maintaining the health of a pregnancy and determining the onset of labor," Li explained.

"Post-partum depression has been extensively studied and discussed by the public, but depression during pregnancy is significantly under-recognized and under-diagnosed. Clinicians should pay close attention to depression during pregnancy to catch it early," Li said. "If prenatal depression is indeed as prevalent as reported in this and other studies and doubles the risk of preterm delivery, then bringing depression to the forefront of prenatal care could lead to a significant reduction of preterm deliveries."

In addition to being the leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity, preterm delivery is also the leading medical expenditure for infants, with estimated annual cost of about $26 billion in the United States alone. Presently, other than a prior history of preterm delivery and some pregnancy complications, very little is known for its risk factors and origins.

"The key strengths of this study are that it ascertained the depressive symptoms early in pregnancy, long before the preterm delivery occurred, therefore avoiding recall bias. In addition, the study was not clouded by antidepressant use because only 1.5 percent of the study population was prescribed antidepressants and we could exclude them in the analyses," Li said. "Considering the increased use of antidepressants among pregnant women, this study's findings may provide a rare opportunity to evaluate the effect of depression on risk of preterm delivery without the entanglements of antidepressants."


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Contact: Danielle Cass
danielle.x.cass@kp.org
510-267-5354
Kaiser Permanente
Source:Eurekalert

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